An alternative dessert for your Christmas or dinner party finale! If you don’t fancy Christmas Pudding this year, make our gluten-free Spiced Chai Panna Cotta with Cranberry Jelly! Equally festive, and decadently creamy, we added a twist to this classic Italian Christmas dessert by infusing the cream with warming Chai tea and topped it with a tart Christmas must-have Cranberry Jelly!
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What is Panna Cotta?
Probably one of the most world-renowned Italian desserts – Panna Cotta – is a cold creamy dessert, famous for its wobble and incredibly silky smooth texture. Panna cotta translates into “cooked cream” in Italian and can be rather confusing, as the only cooking you are going to do is heating the cream, milk and sugar, then leaving it to set with a bit of help of gelatine. Originally from the Piedmont region in Italy, there are thousands of versions of panna cotta these days – ranging from sweet to savoury.
Alternatively, head straight to our selection of all the Best Italian Christmas desserts for more inspiration!
What Is Chai?
You have probably heard of Chai Tea or Chai Latte, right? Well, chai is actually a Hindi word that means tea. However, whilst the term chai tea is commonly used to describe a hot brewed drink, chai isn’t strickly tea! Instead, it is a mix of spices that are steeped in hot water to create an aromatic spiced drink (although sometimes it is mixed with black tea as well). Chai is normally sweetened and served with milk. And that’s why it works so well in desserts! Chai desserts, just like our spiced panna cotta!
How To Make Chai Panna Cotta Without Difficulty?
Panna Cotta is one of those desserts that everybody loves, but somehow it made onto the list of dreaded desserts for many home cooks! Will it wobble, will it not? Will it set? Will you be able to turn the Panna Cottas out of their moulds without them sticking?
We have minimised the chances of failure by using a couple of techniques that ensure success every time we make this chai dessert.
- Setting the Chai Panna Cotta in seethrough glasses is a lot easier than having to demould them after setting. And let’s be honest, they look very pretty this way!
- Panna Cotta can be extremely creamy, so we have balanced the textures and flavours with a tart cranberry jelly on top!
- We use a mixture of cream and milk to make sure our Chai Tea Panna Cotta has just the right amount of creaminess.
- And we always use leaf gelatine to set our spiced Panna Cotta to avoid lumps of gelatine in it!
Follow these tips and the recipe method, and we assure you will have the best Chai Latte Panna Cotta for dessert!
Why is Spiced Panna Cotta a Perfect Christmas Dessert?
When people think about Christmas desserts, the mind immediately goes to Christmas pudding or Yule Log. The reality is, most of us have the same meal every single Christmas: it’s always turkey with all the trimmings! And we wouldn’t change it for the world!
But how about changing the dessert? I don’t know about you, but Christmas Pudding never seems that appealing after an extremely filling Christmas dinner. I personally always feel like something lighter, but with the traditional Christmas flavours. So here’s a solution!
Our Spiced Chai Panna Cotta with Cranberry Jelly is:
- gluten-free, therefore suitable for celiacs.
- incredibly creamy and decadent.
- has all the flavours of Christmas: warming spices and cranberry! Chai tea is used in this panna cotta for a reason: it adds that mixed-spice warmth to the dessert that no Christmas can be imagined without. What is more, the creamy texture of the panna cotta is counterbalanced with slightly tart cranberry jelly (and who can imagine Christmas without cranberries, right?).
- this dessert can be prepared a couple of days ahead of time, which is always welcome on a busy Christmas Day!
All this talk about Christmas, but truth be told, we make this Chai Spiced Panna Cotta in summer too! It’s just so good! So, if we have your attention, let’s jump into the best Italian Christmas Dessert recipe!
The ingredients below are for four Chai Tea Panna Cotta Desserts, but this recipe can be doubled or halved easily depending on how many people you are catering for!
For Chai Panna Cotta
- 350 ml double cream: also known as heavy cream, it is the main component of traditional panna cotta and provides the creaminess to this chai dessert.
- 150 ml milk: whilst many Panna Cottas are made with cream only, I like to add some milk to many creamy desserts. The reason for this is that desserts made with cream only tend to leave a slightly ‘greasy’ feeling on your tongue, so I would definitely recommend adding milk to your Panna Cottas.
- 2 sheets leaf gelatine: No matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t get on with powdered gelatine. Leaf gelatine has been a discovery of a decade for me and I couldn’t recommend it enough. I normally use Dr Oatker, and it hasn’t disappointed me yet.
- 50 g caster sugar: caster sugar dissolves quicker than granulated.
- 1 tsp chai tea or 1 teabag: chai adds a wonderful Christmasy mixed-spice-like warmth to the dessert and makes it a truly festive dessert.
- 2 -3 cardamom pods, seeds only: a great pairing for both the chai tea Panna Cotta and the cranberry jelly on top.
For Cranberry Jelly
- 180 ml cranberry juice: we used the reduced sugar kind since we are adding more sugar to it.
- 60 g caster sugar: caster sugar dissolves quicker than granulated.
- 1½ sheets leaf gelatine.
Make the Chai Latte Panna Cotta
Soak the leaf gelatine sheets in cold water for 10 minutes. The sheets will soften in that time.
In the meantime, pour double cream, milk and sugar into a pan. Add an infuser with chai tea and slightly crushed cardamom seeds (don’t grind them into a powder) in it (or simply add a teabag and finely ground cardamom seeds). Cook on low heat gently stirring to dissolve the sugar. The mixture should reach the scalding point but don’t let it boil (the temperature should reach 70-80° if you’re using a kitchen thermometer).
Take it off the heat, and remove the tea infuser/ teabag. Remove the gelatine sheets from the water and squeeze them to remove any excess water. Place the gelatine in the cream mixture and stir until the gelatine dissolves. Leave the cream to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Stir again and transfer into a pouring jug. Divide the mixture between 4 glasses, taking care that it does not drip down the sides.
Leave the chai panna cotta to cool down completely at room temperature. Then carefully transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 4 hours, or until the mixture sets (it should still have a good wobble when shaken gently).
Make The Cranberry Jelly
Soak the leaf gelatine sheets in cold water for 10 minutes to soften.
In the meantime, heat the cranberry juice and sugar in a small saucepan, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Then take it off the heat.
Squeeze out the gelatine leaves and then add them to the cranberry syrup. Stir until gelatine dissolves completely, and leave to cool down to room temperature (be patient: if you pour the jelly whilst it’s still warm, it will melt the panna cotta making it look very messy, but don’t let the jelly set either).
Pour 4 tablespoon of jelly mixture on top of each of the set Chai Panna Cotta Desserts. Carefully transfer the glasses to the fridge and leave the jelly to set (it will take approx. 2 hours).
Chill until you are ready to serve. Decorate your Chai Desserts with cranberries, rosemary or sugar sprinkles!
No, unfortunately not! The texture of frozen and thawed panna cotta is not pleasant. However, you can make these Chai Tea Panna Cotta 2 days ahead of time and store them in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
We are huge fans of leaf gelatine sheets. They minimise the chances of lumpy texture and they dissolve very quickly, and at lower temperatures. We highly recommend Dr Oatker leaf gelatine, which has not disappointed us to date.
As with many creamy desserts, some texture is always welcome. We recommend serving a sesame biscuit, a piece of shortbread, an amaretti or even a gingernut biscuit with it for some crunch!
Other Creamy Dessert Recipes
For other decadently creamy dessert ideas, have a look at our favourites below:
Creamy Chai Panna Cotta
- 4 seethrough glasses
For Panna Cotta:
For Cranberry Jelly:
- 180 ml cranberry juice
- 60 g caster sugar
- 1½ sheets leaf gelatine
Make the Chai Latte Panna Cotta:
- Soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, pour double cream, milk and sugar into a pan. Add an infuser with chai tea and slightly crushed cardamom seeds in it (or simply add a teabag and a pinch of fine cardamom powder). Cook on low heat gently stirring to dissolve the sugar. The mixture should reach the scalding point but don't let it boil (the temperature should reach 70-80° if you're using a thermometer).
- Take it off the heat, remove the tea infuse/ teabag. Remove the gelatine sheets from the water and squeeze them to remove any excess water. Place the gelatine leaves in the cream mixture and stir until gelatine dissolves. Leave the crean to cool for 10 minutes. Stir again and transfer into a pouring jug. Divide the mixture into 4 glasses, taking care for it not to drip down the sides.
- Leave the panna cotta to cool down completely at room temperature. Then carefully transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 4 hours, or until the mixture sets (it should still have a good wobble when shaken gently).
Make Cranberry Jelly:
- Soak the leaf gelatine sheets in cold water for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat cranberry juice and sugar in a small saucepan, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Then take it off the heat.
- Squeeze out the gelatine leaves and then add them to the cranberry syrup. Stir until gelatine dissolves completely, and leave to cool down to lukewarm. Be patient: if you pour the jelly whilst it's still warm, it will melt the panna cotta making it look very messy).
- Pour approx 4 tablespoon of jelly mixture on top of each of the set Panna Cottas. Carefully transfer the glasses to the fridge and leave the jelly to set (it will take approx. 2 hours).
- Chill until you are ready to serve. You can decorate with cranberries, rosemary or sugar sprinkles!